To Resist or Not To Resist
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
How could the idea of a single park being demolished get a nation so angry? How could resistance unite all the streets of a country? How could people become so unafraid of getting beaten up and tear gassed day and night? And more importantly, how could this nation still have so much fun and laugh at everything about the brutality and rapid unrest?
"This gas feels fantastic, my friend!", "You banned alcohol, the nation sobered up!", "Welcome to the 1st national gas festival!", "Tear gas works wonders on your complexion!", “Hey Starbucks, this movement prefers the coffee of the independent shop owner on the corner!” are only a few of the thousands of declarations on the walls of over 40 cities now. In only a few days, graffitis and sprayed messages became a part of our daily lives. The smashed police “riot control” vehicles vandalized by football fan clubs are on sale all over the internet. Emptied tear gas bullets are used as the new vase homes of flowers.
The spark about a park in Istanbul took over the whole nation and the whole act turned into a matter of either to resist or not to resist. Bu why? If the prime minister of a country sees himself entitled to act also as the gynocologist, architect, doctor, father, social worker, teacher, cinema critique and journalist of the very same country, then one has a pile of reasons to say “Enough is really enough!”.
Reading the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) simply as an Islamist party would be a wrong start. Reading the unrest as a clash between the seculars and the Islamists would be the most irrelevant analysis too. AKP is a populist and liberal political party that is good at reading the needs of today’s conservative world, and we all see how sexist, racist and nationalist they can get when populist. Additionally, this is not a fight by the %50 of the people who did not vote for AKP against the other half who did vote. This social discomfort is more about not feeling okay anymore about the decisions taken for our own lives, bodies, choices and hopes for future.
The reactions are targeting Erdoğan, more than the party itself as a whole. In the last 11 years, since the start of his election as the Prime Minister, he has done more polarizing than uniting. He tried to split up the labour unions, women’s movement, youth groups, media organs and he did succeed well to a certain level. On the 2nd day of the protests, he even said “We are having a hard time keeping the other %50 of this country at their homes.”, openly threatening the people who are demonstrating.
Long considered to be a role model for the region, Turkey is not doing well at all at the moment. It is not the mass numbers of people of Turkey –as they were not passionate about him in the first place- but the world’s leaders who are dissapointed! Having a Muslim but a “modern looking” strong leader and ally in the region often helped the West to legitimize a lot of its misconceptions about the region’s peoples and lives.
In the name of EU accession process, and for the sake of diplomatic and more importantly economic growth, the majority of European leaders and bureaucrats have chosen to show admiration to Erdoğan and his governance. In the name of culture and religion, the majority of world’s leaders again ignored Erdoğan’s racist, sexist and homophobic remarks and policies. Discriminatory politics have not managed well to overshadow enough the bilateral or multi-lateral relations. In the light of all the protests and for the sake of sense of humour, it is now ironic that he is being condemned by the renowned liar leaders of Russia, Syria and Iran.
The most recent example of diplomatic counterfeiting was the visit of Erdoğan to the Netherlands a few months ago. The adoption of a Turkish boy by a Dutch lesbian couple created a homophobic traffic message between the two countries. Erdoğan, not enough satistifed by turning the lives of his nation’s lesbians into hell, saw himself fit to comment on the lives of this couple as well, calling for more appropriate adoptions by families with closer religious and cultural backgrounds to those of Turkey. The closing comment was made by the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte: "It would be good, seen from a different angle, if there were more Islamic families in the Netherlands willing to take foster children from an Islamic background.” Because the visit had to be ended with a trade contract worth millions of euros, of course!
It is hard to see the life span of the unrest at the moment. What can be said is that Turkey does not feel the same anymore. The wall has fallen and the mental borders have demolished among certain parts of social and political citizens. Witnessing about a hundred high school students being tear gassed and beaten up, then seeing the same students chasing back the police vehicles and police officers and never giving up for 6 hours in a row might never happen again. We were simply the luckiest people to witness that very moment. 14-15 year old brats who are barely able to wake up to go to school on time were on the streets at the very early hours to chase fascism. My mother, who has seen that moment on TV, called me to say: “I want to apologise young people like you for underestimating the change you could bring into our country. It seems, we blamed youth for our silence.”
Whether you claim the right to wear whatever you wish, drink what you please, love whoever you want, be in the body you feel fit or say the words that make you feel alive, Turkey’s streets are ready to take care of your anger with thousands of tear gas and beating up! The streets are communally being shared by LGBTs, unionists, socialists, football fans, university students and academics, high school students, ecologists, anarchists, feminists, anti-capitalist Muslims and thousands of unaffiliated citizens who are in solidarity to protect one another. This time the streets speak the language of feminists and LGBTs. “What if we are lesbians and gays, indeed?”, “What the heck does “banned” even mean?” and Don’t call Tayyip ‘a son of a prostitute’. Remember there are prostitutes marching with you.” are only a few of these strong messages.
The unrest could end today and everybody could just go home and disappear from the surface of the earth. Turkish TV channels could go back to televising penguin documentaries and not showing police brutality. However, one thing will not change but continue to give us joy: Public’s wall of fear has fallen. Now the wall has become Erdogan’s -everytime he steps outside his home. Enjoy it, Erdoğan, to the fullest extend.
Turkey, you look beautiful when you get angry.
This article has been written for JAVA, Albanian political magazine.